Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

updated Oct 1, 2020
Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

All the flavors of a classic apple cider doughnut in bundt cake form, including a generous coating of cinnamon sugar.

Serves10

Prep30 minutes

Cook55 minutes to 1 hour

Jump to Recipe
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Apple cider doughnut cake on cake stand with a few slices cut out and served on dessert plate.
Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

Apple-picking season really means apple cider doughnuts, the fragrant treat that apple farms smartly sell as post-picking snacks. Usually made from boiled-down apple cider, these crunchy, craggly cake doughnuts are irresistible — especially when they’re still warm from the fryer.

Making fried doughnuts at home, however, is a project I rarely want to tackle, which is why I herald fall with an apple cider doughnut cake instead. This is my version of a favorite from Serious Eats — I’ve made their recipe so many times that I’ve streamlined it to include a store-bought shortcut, and worked out the best way to get cinnamon sugar into every nook and cranny. The result is a super-tender Bundt cake that’s so moist it lasts for days, and has a crunchy crust coated with plenty of spiced sugar. It’s my gift to you in hopes that you’ll get as much happiness out of it as I do this fall.

How to Get Easy Apple Flavor

The original recipe calls for cooking apple cider and apples together until soft, then puréeing it in a food processor. This process is time-consuming and messy, so I streamlined it by subbing in an easy-to-find shortcut: applesauce. Store-bought unsweetened applesauce still gives good apple flavor and makes the cake much, much easier to make. Go ahead and grab your kid’s applesauce cups if you want — two will do nicely here. I know there’s no apple cider in the cake, but you’ll forgive me once you taste it.

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

Choosing the Right Bundt Pan

Bundt cake pans are one of the easiest ways to make a pretty cake with zero decorating skills. I love this fleur-de-lis pan, but there are so many molds to choose from. For this cake, you want a Bundt pan that holds about 10 cups of batter. A lot of pans only give the diameter dimension (which varies depending on the design), so the best way to check that you have the right-sized pan is to measure the volume: Just measure how many cups of water you need to fill up the pan. If you have a larger 12-cup pan, you can use it, but know the cake will be wider but not as tall.

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

Coating Your Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

After the cake comes out of the oven, you’ll immediately brush the bottom with melted butter and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg. (If you have whole nutmeg, grate it finely and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing warm spice flavor.) The butter helps the sugar stick to the cake, and you’ll do the same brushing and sprinkling once the cake cools some more and is unmolded.

An easy way to coat the sides of the cake is to gently pick up and tilt small sections toward the center while sprinkling. Be patient with this part and sprinkle in a few rounds, as the first coatings will be absorbed by the butter. You’ll be rewarded with a crunchy coating that contrasts beautifully with the tender, moist cake inside. Eat it for breakfast, dessert, or an afternoon treat — this cake is welcome any time of day.

Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

All the flavors of a classic apple cider doughnut in bundt cake form, including a generous coating of cinnamon sugar.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 55 minutes to 1 hour

Serves 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons

    (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 cup

    unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/2 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg, plus more for the coating

  • 3/4 cup

    plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Place 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer.) Place 1 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Place 3 large eggs on the counter. Let the butter, milk mixture, and eggs sit at least 1 hour to come to room temperature.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Brush a 10-cup (around 9-inch) bundt cake pan with all of the melted butter, making sure to brush the tube.

  3. Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk to combine and aerate.

  4. Add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.

  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the milk mixture. Beat in half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds more. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.

  6. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and a pinch of ground nutmeg together in a small bowl. Fit a wire rack over a baking sheet.

  7. Place the bundt pan on the rack. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, and immediately brush the bottom of the cake with a thin coating of butter (save the remaining butter). Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the spiced sugar. Let cool 45 minutes.

  8. Flip the cake out onto the rack. Brush all over with the remaining butter (melt again if needed). Sprinkle all over with the remaining spiced sugar. To coat the sides, gently lift small sections of the cake up from the bottom and tilt towards the center while sprinkling. Sprinkle in a few rounds, as the first few rounds will be absorbed by the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.